Wyoming news briefs for May 24

One killed, three injured in wreck near Shoshoni

RIVERTON — A Casper man died and three people -- including two children -- were injured in a two-vehicle crash reported Thursday afternoon near Shoshoni.

Stephen James Stewart, 75, of Casper, died at the scene of the collision, which occurred at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday near milepost 69 on U.S. Highway 20-26 east of Shoshoni.

Officials said he was driving east in a 2000 Ford F250 when he entered into the westbound lane and collided head-on with a 2002 Dodge Ram driven by Michael Andrew Marr, 35, of Greeley, Colorado.

Marr was injured in the crash and flown by helicopter to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper along with one of his two juvenile passengers, the Wyoming Highway Patrol said.

Both of the passengers were described as "young."

Officials said they were restrained in child seats at the time of the collision.

On Friday WHP Lt. Travis Hauser said Marr is in stable condition and the children are "OK."

Their mother was driving in a vehicle behind them and witnessed the crash, he said, noting that she retrieved the children from the Dodge Ram immediately afterward.

Hauser estimated that Stewart and Marr both were traveling at 65-70 mph at the time of the collision, which Hauser described as "almost a 100 percent true head-on."

"When they impacted, they didn't go far," he said. "Basically the white Ford just slid and flipped real quick onto its roof."


Gillette woman sentenced to prison in meth ring

GILLETTE — A Gillette woman was one of four people sentenced to prison on federal drug distribution charges.

Ashley Nichole Bullock, 35, was sentenced to 77 months in prison for her part in the meth ring, which used the U.S. Postal Service to ship drugs to Wyoming.

Also sentenced was Angel de Jesus Duarte-Toledo, 34, of Yuma, Arizona; Louiz Serbando Pena-Hermosillo, 35, of Casper; and Sheila Ann Rohovie, 33, of Dubois.

In April 2020, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in collaboration with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, began investigating a drug distribution ring engaged in the distribution of meth in Wyoming. The investigation began when DCI notified USPIS that its agents believed people in Wyoming were using the postal service to mail meth, said acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray.

Acting on DCI’s information, USPIS recovered a package containing about 424 grams of meth. Investigators determined that Duarte-Toledo was mailing meth from Arizona to Wyoming for further distribution, Murray said.

After co-conspirators in Wyoming received the packages, the meth was then distributed throughout Gillette and Glenrock.

Duarte-Toledo was sentenced to 121 months in prison; Pena-Hermosillio was sentenced to 145 months in prison; and Rohovie to 120 months.


Autopsy completed in case of woman whose eye was gouged out

RIVERTON — After six months, the document that could lead to murder charges against a man already accused of gouging out a woman’s eye arrived Thursday in Fremont County.

Patrick Lee Rose, who was born in 1967 and who was listed as a Dubois man at the time of his arrest, is accused of fleeing his own hospital bed in Lander on Thanksgiving Day and gouging out an elderly woman’s eye. 

According to court documents and public statements, Rose was in his own hospital room when suddenly he fled, crossed the hallway, and went into the room of Elaine Tillman, whom he did not know. 

Hospital staff reported that Rose had jumped onto Tillman, and had gouged out one of her eyes while damaging her other eye beyond repair. 

Tillman died Dec. 9, 2020, about 13 days after the incident, at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. 

Within hours of her death, the Fremont County Attorney’s Office increased the charge against Rose from aggravated assault — which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison — to second-degree murder, for which punishments range from 20 years to life in prison. 

But Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt blocked the prosecution, stating publicly and writing in an order that his court required evidence that it was Rose’s action that killed Tillman.

The autopsy documents were unavailable to the public for six months, because autopsies are not public record in Utah.

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun’s office received the sealed document Thursday, but LeBrun was unable to release it. 


New records ‘ombudsman’ named

CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon has tapped his constituent liaison to serve as Wyoming’s next public records ombudsman, his office announced. 

Darlena Potter had served in the liaison role since September 2019. She has previously worked in state and local government, the governor’s office said. 

In her new role, she will attempt to resolves challenges over the timeliness of records production or claims by an agency that records are exempt from disclosure. The ombudsman also provides education to state and local governments about their obligations when someone files a request for public records. 

“I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to provide a greater contribution to both Governor Gordon and the state,” Potter said in a statement. 

According to the governor’s office, Potter will review existing public records procedures within state government. She also plans to streamline the dispute resolution process. 

Potter takes over for Ruth Van Mark, who served in the role until April 30, when she left to buy a quilt store in Torrington.

Van Mark was the state’s first ombudsman, taking on the job after the position was created in 2019 when lawmakers passed Senate File 57, which helped to clarify the process for requesting public records.